The Kennesaw State softball program is no stranger to those at Cherokee High School. Currently three members of the Owls softball team were teammates at Cherokee before coming to Kennesaw State with juniors Sharon Swanson and Abbey Mixon and sophomore Natalie Rhodes.
Swanson explained that she really didn’t know where she was going to attend college, but everything felt really good while talking to KSU Head Coach Scott Whitlock and she decided to make the move to Kennesaw, Ga.
Swanson said the transition from high school to college was a lot easier knowing Mixon was coming to Kennesaw State as well.
“I feel like we have chemistry since we did play on the same team,” Sharon Swanson said.
So when Rhodes was trying to find the right college Kennesaw State seemed like a good choice.
“It was easier,” Rhodes said. “I was more comfortable.”
Part of the reason Kennesaw State has plucked so many players from Cherokee High School in Canton, Ga. is because Cherokee’s Head Coach Tanya Carlisle was a member of the Kennesaw State softball team that won the Division II national championship in 1995.
Picking up players from Cherokee High has served the Owls well as Sharon Swanson is currently second in the A-Sun with 34 career homers. Swanson also leads the Owls in runs scored with 37, while Rhodes ranks fifth with 21. Senior pitcher Mixon has accounted for 10 of the Owls 32 wins this season.
However, the Owls hit a rough patch this in the middle of the season. They began to lose a handful of games here and there.
“I think we came together after a talk with our sports psychologist Tiffany [Jones]. That turned us around,” Swanson said. “She told us to play for ourselves and get out there and do what we do best and we are all great athletes at a D-I school and they are capable of doing that. We turned it around after that conversation.”
The conversation was exactly what the Owls needed to hear to change the course of the season.
“I think it was a huge spark, out whole season turned around after we talked to her. It was huge.”
The Owls advanced after downing the No. 4 Lady Bisons, 9-2, to face No. 6 Stetson for a chance to go to the conference final where FGCU awaits.